David Cameron plays down embarrassing moment in Indonesia

 

Jakarta

David Cameron suffered an embarrassing moment today when his Indonesian host suggested that boosting government spending and preventing companies laying off staff was the best way to fix a wrecked economy.

The comments by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono came at a joint press conference in Jakarta as Mr Cameron continued his trade mission in South East Asia.

Mr Yudhoyono insisted he was not trying to tell other countries what to do, and every government had to find their own solutions.

But he proceeded to set out an approach that seemed to contradict key policies being pursued by the coalition.

"In 1998 our economy was devastated. It collapsed. We learnt a lot. We had major reforms," he said.

"We did many things. So 10 years later, when the economy was impacted, we were united - the government, private sector, regions.

"We also developed policies - fiscal policies, monetary policies - that protected us. We should prevent (companies) conducting lay offs.

"We should safeguard unemployment levels. We know the community was impacted by this. We provided social assistance, we provided stimulus so that (people) can buy purchases.

"It seemed to work for Indonesia. It may not work in other countries. What is important is we have to prevent lay-offs, we must ensure people can buy, we must ensure industries can produce and we must make the government be able to make the right fiscal and monetary policy responses."

Speaking to ITV News in a round of broadcast interviews, Mr Cameron played down the incident.

"I think he was making a very sensible point which is that both of us have a challenge which is to generate the growth necessary to ensure that young people in our countries have a job and a future and that is critical in Indonesia just as it is critical in Britain," he said.

The Prime Minister also warned that Britain could have been in the same position as other European countries such as Spain if not for the government's tough action to tackle the deficit.

"If you look around Europe you can see countries that don't have robust plans getting profoundly punished with high interest rates, whereas we have got some of the lowest interest rates we have had for decades," he added.

Mr Cameron targeted fast-growing Indonesia - the world's most populous Muslim country - for the second stop of his trip.

The leaders set a target of doubling trade between their nations by 2015.

And they unveiled a £326 million deal which will see Indonesian airline Garuda buy 11 Airbus A330s, shoring up thousands of jobs in Britain.

However, the premier was forced to respond to criticism that the planes would not be able to fly direct to the UK because Heathrow did not have enough capacity.

A spokesman for airport operator BAA welcomed Mr Cameron's emphasis on links with emerging economies.

But he went on: "It is not enough to have one plane of business people visiting Indonesia once.

"Until the government has an aviation policy which supports direct connections to emerging markets the Prime Minister will be fighting for British exports with one hand tied behind his back."

Mr Cameron told ITV News the coalition had made a "clear promise" not to build a third runway at Heathrow, and was "sticking to it".

"I was talking to the head of Garuda, and he was saying that he hopes there will be a direct flight in future between London and Jakarta, so that will be a step forward," he went on.

"We have got a paper coming out on the future of aviation to make sure that we are well connected. Remember that we do have in Heathrow one of the biggest and most successful airports in the world.

"There is expansion taking place at Heathrow. The BA and BMI deal might make available extra slots that will allow expansion to take place."

Just hours after Mr Cameron's arrival today a huge 8.6-magnitude quake hit off the coast of Indonesia near Aceh.

The premier said Britain "stood ready" to provide help, but fears of major casualties and a tsunami did not materialise.

Mr Cameron, who will head on to Malaysia tomorrow, also looked forward to his visit to Burma on Friday, when he is due to become the first western leader to meet Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi since she was elected to parliament this month.

Asked if it was too early to assume that democratic reforms would continue, he replied: "There are never guarantees but of all the bad things that are happening in our world I think Burma is a bright spark, where you see an inspirational leader who has been so patient and hard working and wanting to see democracy flower in that country, we see that flowering taking place. I think it is a good time to go and visit and I am looking forward to doing that.

"Britain has helped put huge pressure and sanctions on that regime and I think there will be opportunities now to work with Aung San Suu Kyi and make that process is irreversible."

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Admin Assistant

£12000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding Insurance Brokerag...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Mechanic / Plant Fitter

£24000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Lancashire based engineeri...

Recruitment Genius: Service Advisor

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Recruitment Genius: Service Advisor

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders